Catasauqua zoners grant variance request
Vincent and Chris Smith appeared before Catasauqua's Zoning Hearing Board on March 19 to request a variance on parking requirements for their renovated building located at 301 Front St.
In explaining the required notices sent to surrounding property owners, borough Manager Eugene Goldfeder, acting in his capacity as the borough zoning officer, noted an exception to the standard procedure.
"We normally send out notices of this type to surrounding property owners, but Mr. Smith owns the property adjacent to the building, so we sent out notices to property owners that abutted Mr. Smith's property," he said.
Smith converted the property into a live-work unit, defined as a unit with a business on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors.
Live-work units are permitted in the downtown commercial district if sufficient parking exists.
Prior to the conversion, the property had a vitamin store on the first floor and a photography studio on the second floor, but no apartment units.
Smith reported to the board that he now has a signed lease with a hair salon for the first floor.
According to Goldfeder, the downtown commercial district has a unique twist on parking requirements.
"The downtown study recognized that parking was a problem and allowed existing parking requirements for businesses. Based on the old business use, eight spaces were allocated. The new business requires four spaces," he said.
According to Goldfeder, the parking space requirement can be lowered, but cannot exceed the number grandfathered by the study.
Goldfeder added that the spaces designated for business could not be used by apartment tenants.
The apartments require four parking spaces, two spaces for each unit.
Smith showed with his attachments that sufficient space exists along Front Street to provide parking for the new hair salon business and the apartments.
The hair salon required another four, two for each chair.
Smith prepared six parking spaces on property that he owns adjacent to the building, property that now houses Biery's Port Body Works.
The zoning board approved the request with stipulations.
Goldfeder required that if the property adjacent to 301 Front St. is sold, the parking spaces must remain accessible to the tenants and the business on the first floor.
The board also asked that the spaces be marked, with four spaces designated for the apartments and two spaces for the business.
Smith agreed to the conditions.
Goldfeder cautioned Smith that by accepting the new allocation, the number of parking spaces for the business on the first floor and any future business is capped at four spaces.
"If a new business comes in and they require more parking spaces, then the new business will need to come before the board and request additional parking," he said.